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The Day of Surgery

What should I expect for my child the day of surgery?

It's important that you follow all the instructions that were given to you by your child's surgeon. Arriving at the wrong time or letting your child eat and drink after the prescribed times can cause delays in your child's surgery. It might even need to be postponed or canceled.

Make plans for other kids to be cared for at home. Your attention needs to be on the child having surgery.

Before coming to the hospital, remove your child's watch, necklace, earrings, and other jewelry. Leave them at home so they are not lost. Also have your child remove nail polish so that the color of the nail beds can be watched during and after surgery.

When at the hospital, you may expect the following to happen:

  • Your child will change into a hospital gown.

  • Your child will get a hospital ID bracelet. It will have their name, birth date, and hospital number on it.

  • Vital signs will be taken such as heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure.

  • Many of the same questions you have answered before will be asked again. This is a safety measure to make sure that the information in your child's record is correct. You will be asked about allergies and medicines and if your child has been exposed to any contagious diseases. The child's name and date of birth will be asked multiple times. This is done to confirm and reconfirm the identity of the child and the procedure.

  • An anesthesiologist will see your child to answer any questions. They will examine your child before the surgery.

  • A child life specialist will see your child to help prepare them for what to expect and to answer any questions your child may have.

  • Your child's surgeon will see you to make sure your child is ready for the surgery. They will answer any questions about the procedure and the recovery.

Tell the healthcare staff if your child has an allergy to any foods, environmental factors, prescription or over-the-counter medicines, latex, or anything else. Check that they place an allergy bracelet on your child if they have any allergies. Also be sure the allergy is noted in the medical record. Tell the staff what your child is allergic to and what the reaction is. Both should be noted in the medical record.

When it's time for surgery, an operating room staff member will escort your child to the operating room. You may walk with your child up to the operating room hallway, or, depending on the facility's policies and the age of the child, you may be allowed into the operating room. This is where you will give hugs and kisses and tell your child that you will wait for them close by and will see them soon. Your child's identity will be verified again. The patient chart will be checked one final time to make sure all information is correct. You will be told where to wait. When the surgery is over, the surgeon will speak with you and let you know how the operation went. The recovery room nurses will typically bring the parent in to see the child.

After surgery

After surgery, most children go to the recovery room or postanesthesia care unit. There, the child will be watched while the anesthesia wears off. Depending on the type of surgery, your child may be discharged right away or may go to:

  • A hospital unit to recover for 24 hours or less

  • A hospital unit to recover for a few days

  • An intensive care unit (ICU) to recover for a few hours or days, then to the hospital unit until time for discharge

Online Medical Reviewer: Jonas DeMuro MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2022
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.